Protesting Federal Ministry of Finance workers on Monday blocked their minister, Kemi Adeosun, from accessing her office at the ministry’s headquarters as they demanded “unpaid N1.2 billion special overtime allowances.”
The government however said the allowances the workers were demanding was unknown to law.
Wielding placards with various inscriptions, the workers, consisting those from the ministry and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as well as the Budget and National Planning ministry, locked the entrance to the ministry’s headquarters and prevented the minister from accessing her office when she arrived for work.
Other members of the public who had businesses to do in the ministry were also blocked.
Although the protesting workers refused to speak to reporters about their grouses, some of the placards carried messages accusing the minister of insensitivity to the plight of workers.
Some of the placards read: “Adeosun: Pay us our N1.2 billion special overtime allowance”, “PMB sack Mrs. Adeosun now. She is insensitive to workers’ welfare,” “Adeosun: you are destroying finance ministry”, You must go”, “You are incompetent “, “You are killing PMB’s change agenda.”
When the minister waited for some time without the workers agreeing to free the entrance, her driver chauffeured her away.
A senior official in the Ministry who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity accused Mrs. Adeosun of refusing to allow workers go on trainings they had enjoyed over the years or pay them the allowances due to those who work beyond official hours.
“Some staff of the ministry (of Finance) were entitled to three trainings annually. Under former minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,it was cut down to two training programmes. But, since the present minister arrives, she has refused to approve it.
“Over-time used to be part of the ministry’s work schedule, because any staff who work beyond the official closing hours were entitled to over-time allowance. But, since Mrs. Adeosun’s arrival, all that has been stopped.
“Besides, the performance allowance to ministry staff at the end of every year, usually drawn from the cost of revenue collection of Federal Inland Revenue Service, has also been stopped.”
However, the spokesperson for the ministry, Salisu Dambatta, described as unwarranted the joint protest by the workers.
Mr. Dambatta said the payment of “Special Overtime (SOT),” which the workers were demanding was stopped by the previous administration in 2014 on the ground that it was not listed in any extant government circular, financial regulations or the public service rules.
Besides, the spokesperson said the N1.2 billion claims computed by the staff union for payment could not have been budgeted for in 2016 in the first place, not only because of the paucity of funds, but also because the SOT allowance was not part of the remuneration in the federal public service.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Budget Office of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, do not individually or collectively, owe any of their personnel their salaries.
“In view of the foregone, the Management of the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to categorically state that the protests have no justifiable grounds,” Mr. Dambatta said.
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